Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except (Blu-ray)

March 30, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In the Vietnam conflict, Sergeant. Jack Stryker (Brian Schulz) and his platoon were close friends and soldiers, making sure they watched each other’s backs at all times. Stryker was shot twice in the leg in one episode of battle, but he was carried to safety by his men even though he demanded they leave him behind. But these men wanted to make it out alive as a team, which meant their leader had to make it out as well. As the soldiers marched through the landscape, they left a wake of death and destruction behind them. Now Stryker is back in his old life though, seeking to rekindle and old flame and live a normal, peaceful life. He hooks back up with his old girlfriend Sally (Cheryl Hansen) and the two seem to hit it off again, until a bad turn of luck strikes. An insane cult leader who thinks he is Jesus Christ (Sam Raimi) is on a rampage, with Sally and her grandfather the latest victims. But Stryker has no plans to let this episode go unpunished, so he reteams with his old platoon and the team goes on another mission, to shut down this cult once and for all.

This movie has it all, guns, babes, insane cult leaders, blood, lawn darts, blood sacrifices, and even a guy named Love Machine. The covers claims is film is “Charles Manson meets Rambo,” which isn’t much of a stretch in the end. The main difference is that movie never, even for a second takes itself seriously and the whole point seems to be having fun and making an original & memorable motion picture. This wasn’t a blockbuster hit of course, but if you’ve it then I doubt you will ever forget this one. The normal standards for acting & writing are out the window due to the nature of this movie, but I was never disappointed on either front. The film has a rather silly and madcap tone to it, so any flaws can be brushed aside as part of the grand, low budget scheme of things. It is a little slow in the middle, but there is enough gags and funny lines to keep interest intact overall. With hilarious characters, dripping blood, and wacky sound effects galore, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except gets a high recommendation from this reviewer.

This movie sports numerous memorable performances, but in the end I think Sam Raimi steals this show. Raimi goes beyond the limits of “over the top” acting and creates a whole new style, which some might consider bad, but I think suits the character to perfection. The hilarious wig adds a lot to this persona, as does the pair of choppers Raimi dons to enhance the character visually. He doesn’t have that many lines, more or less making faces and gestures for the most part, but Raimi is awesome here and hits this role dead on. But then again, maybe it wasn’t that hard…it is still awesome though. Raimi is best known, however as a director and has helmed such films as Army Of Darkness, For Love Of The Game, Darkman, The Evil Dead, A Simple Plan, and Evil Dead II. This film’s cast also includes Robert Rickman, John Manfredi (Hefty’s), Cheryl Hansen, Perry Mallette (Crimewave), Timothy Patrick Quill (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn 2, Army Of Darkness), and Brian Schulz. The director of Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except was Josh Becker, who also helped write this story along with Bruce “I need to find another decent role if I don’t want people to call me Ash anymore” Campbell and Sheldon Lettich.

Video: How does it look?

Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen. This is a low rent movie made over three decades ago, but thanks to a 2k digital restoration, it looks remarkable. The print looks much cleaner than any other version I’ve seen and the natural grain is intact, which is great news. You can still see signs of the film’s low budget roots of course, but you have to expect that. I was beyond impressed with this presentation, as I never expected to see such a clean, clear visual treatment for this movie.

Audio: How does it sound?

You have to love Synapse Films, as they’ve also given this film a new DTS HD lossless soundtrack. The main benefit from this mix is how much cleaner and clearer the audio sounds. Not nearly as dated or thin, which is great news. The music in specific sounds much better than previous home video editions, but the audio across the board has been improved thanks to this treatment.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Not content with a visual restoration and audio revamp, Synapse has also slathered this release in bonus materials. You can watch the original Stryker’s War short film, listen to not one but two audio commentary tracks (which happen to include Bruce Campbell), and even watch a look inside the production to see how this cult classic was created. That isn’t all however, as you’ll also find a new interview with Bruce Campbell, a deleted scene with optional audio comments, an alternate title sequence, and the original theatrical trailer. There is also a DVD version of the film included, which is always a welcome touch.

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